In the beginning this blog was centered on San Francisco parks and open space issues with special emphasis on natural areas and natural history. Over time it began to range into other areas and topics. As you can see, it is eclectic, as I interlace it with topics of interest to me.

I welcome feedback: just click this link to reach me.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


1.   Erroneous Chronicle story--another one--on frogs
2.  SaveTheFrogs wins $5,000 grant
3.   GGNRA Dog Mgt survey CORRECTION
4.   Two wildflower walks this weekend
5.   SF Muni riders and/or taxpayers - read this and think about it
6.   Return of the Harbor Porpoises March 15
7.   Feedback:  Owls/Sierra Club sell-out
8.   Worthy quotations
9.   Report on Fish & Game Commission hearing on mountain lion-killing incident
10. Citizen comments on Lake Merced management
11.  What are those bright stars or planets in western sky now?
12.  Awards ceremony for World Water Day, March 22 in Redwood City
13.  What's your water footprint?  What - 32,911 glasses per day???
14.  Watershed Nursery End of Winter 99-cent sale March 18
15.  California Native Grasslands Assn workshop schedule
16.  Green Connections city-wide hours for next month
17.  Tomorrow is Pi Day - 3.14 at 1.59 pm.  (Get it?)
18.  The Joy of Pi - and more pi than you can consume

"The sun will not rise,
or set,
without my notice
and thanks."
    Winslow Homer

Subject: Re: Chorus frog carries killer fungus

This story sucks!!! It means nothing. The chorus frogs at Mori point and Sharp Park have been together forever and and both thrive there together.  Chorus frogs do not travel and expand on their own, in fact they are also in decline for many reasons beyond Chytrid, ditto yellow legs.   Chytrid is a fungus and is spread through spores in contaminated mud or water on feet of all animals, tires, tools, etc. It is ridiculous to single out chorus frogs as a the main vector for Chytrid. This disease can be introduced  to and area long before a Chorus frogs shows up, or into and area where chorus frogs and other non-resistant amphibians are and infecting them both.  
  The story should say hooray!!! The Pacific chorus frogs have been found to host a bacteria that is a foil for the Chyrid fungus which allows them to survive the disease.
With further research  this bacteria may produce a treatment that can inoculate areas where threatened non resistent species live offering them some hope of survival. 
  It is possible that Chorus frogs with the spread of this beneficial bacteria may already be providing some degree of resistance to Chytrid at Mori Point and Sharp Park. In this way resistant Chorus frogs may prove beneficial.
 I know developers will love this story.    Please post this.   Jim Mckissock


2.  Save The Frogs Wins $5,000 Grant
Dear Jake,
Thanks to a $5,000 grant from the Helen and Allan Ridley Charitable Trust, SAVE THE FROGS! is educating thousands of San Francisco students about the importance of amphibians! Through the San Francisco Tadpole Headstart Program, which is led by SAVE THE FROGS! and our partner Tree Frog Treks, we have already given 21 free presentations on amphibian conservation to nearly 2,100 San Francisco students. Tree Frog Treks compliments the presentations by bringing live native San Francisco tadpoles into classrooms to teach students about metamorphosis and threats to local frogs. Our goal is to get San Francisco kids excited about frogs and interested in protecting them. You can learn more about the San Francisco Tadpole Headstart Program at:


3.  Golden Gate National Recreation Area CORRECTION

Hi all - in our January 2012 newsletter we mentioned that in  addition to preparing a Supplemental Dog Management Plan, we were going to conduct a survey in February.  The purpose was to ascertain what effect our dog management plan might have on how people use the park, and how any change of user patterns might affect lands and areas managed by other agencies.  The survey was sent out on Monday, February 27 to our 7,000+ dog plan stakeholder mailing list.

Unfortunately, it was not clear in the survey instructions that the survey was intended only for those on our stakeholder mailing list, and that each of these names was provided with a unique survey access code allowing a single survey access.  We have sent a clarifying email to those on our stakeholder email list, but some of the stakeholders without email, or who have survey access information forwarded to them, may not get this message

If possible, it would be helpful if you could let your interested constituents know that the survey is NOT a general public survey.   We have also contacted the various dog walking groups and elected officials and enlisted their help in clarifying the survey sample issue.  Because of federal restrictions on surveys in parks, we are limited on how broad the survey sample can be, and cannot open the survey to the general public.  Our current stakeholder list will provide us with a large enough sample that we will be able to draw important information from the survey.

If you get inquiries about this survey, please refer the callers to 415 561-4728.  We will get back to the callers right away.  If you have any questions about this, please call me at 415 561-4947.

Shirwin Smith
Management Assistant
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Ft. Mason, Building 201
San Francisco, CA 94123
415-561-4947 (o)
415-716-9999 (c)


Wildflower Walk Saturday, March 17th at 11:30 AM, Bernal Hill
This Saturday on Bernal Hill join me for a wildflower walk. We'll look at early wildflowers, including a locally rare population of star lilies (Zigadenus fremontii). Other current bloomers include Footsteps-of-Spring, Lomatium, Shooting Star and a few Suncups. We'll talk about some history on the hill and current challenges to conserving these wildflower populations.

We'll meet at 11:30AM at the South gate of Bernal Hill, which is near Anderson Street and the only water fountain in the park. This walk follows the monthly volunteer work party, which begins at 10AM in the same location.

Invite your friends, bring your kids. Dogs on leash are welcome.
Showers ok, steady rain cancels.

For more information you can email or call 415-831-6332.


California Native Plant Society field trip - free and open to the public
Bayview Hill Wildflowers
Leader:  Margo Bors
Sunday 18 March, 10 am to noon

Bayview Hill is one of San Francisco's least known but best preserved natural areas.  Its hilltop grasslands are home to a diversity of wildflowers--hillside pea (Lathyrus vestitus), tomcat clover (Trifolium willdenovii), checkerbloom (Sidalcea malviflora), California buttercup (Ranunculus californicus), footsteps of spring (Sanicula arctopoides), several lomatiums and lupines, and many more - and we may see some of the only San Francisco collinsia (C. multicolor) left in the city.  These and beautiful rock outcrops and panoramic views will leave you feeling inspired.  Be prepared for breezy conditions.  Meet at the end of Key Avenue, two blocks east of Third St, very near the T streetcar line's LeConte station.  Heavy rain postpones to March 25. 


5.  Viewpoints in San Francisco Examiner Sunday 11 March

Stop costly, overhyped Central Subway
by Gerald Cauthen and Barry Eisenberg

Under the aegis of San Francisco's then-Mayor Art Agnos, the Embarcadero Freeway was torn down in 1991.  With the long-awaited removal of this hated concrete behemoth looming over San Francisco's Bay views, The City finally rid itself of the most destructive public project ever constructed within its boundaries.

However the teardown of the earthquake-damaged structure was not without controversy.  Some of the merchants and residents in the Chinatown objected, fearing that removing the freeway would reduce access to their part of San Francisco.

To placate these objectors, it was decided to build a short piece of underground rail tunnel, later to be known as the Central Subway, and a plan was hatched to build the tunnel with minimal financial participation by San Francisco itself.  By "leveraging" an 8% city share of the cost with state and federal funds, The City thought it could enjoy the benefits of a $1.58 billion project funded largely by the State of California and federal government.

Unfortunately, in their frenzied pursuit of the state and federal grants, San Francisco officials forgot about what they were building and forgot about the benefits.  With everyone's attention riveted on all that "free" state and federal money, no one paid much heed to the project itself.  Left to their own devices, the planners, the managers and the engineers made a series of weak and shortsighted decisions that resulted in an overpriced, disconnected and largely useless appendage to San Francisco's public transit system.

First, the subway would deny service to anyone north and west of the southern third of Chinatown.  Second, it would disconnect T-Third Street line riders from the direct access they now enjoy to the Market Street subway stations.

And finally, as laid out and designed, it would do nothing to ease traffic congestion along Stockton Street, little if anything to improve access to Chinatown and--according to San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency projections--fail to attract enough riders to justify its ultra-high cost.  What the subway certainly would do if constructed is to permanently saddle Muni with millions of dollars a year in additional operating and maintenance costs.

For a clear picture of just how bad things are, one need only view the SFMTA's official Central Subway reports on the Federal Transit Administration's website - or look over last June's San Francisco grand jury report...or peruse the outside audit of the Muni and Central Subway recently produced for San Francisco County Transportation Authority chairman and city Supervisor David Campos.  The picture that emerges is that of a grossly overpriced, short subway of little transportation value to anyone.

It gets worse.  The municipal officials who have so fervently pursued federal Central Subway funding also forgot what every Muni rider knows well; namely, that San Francisco desperately needs funds to properly operate, maintain and otherwise strengthen its disintegrating existing transit system.  It appears these officials failed to notice that by sucking in San Francisco's share of available state and federal funding for years to come, this one ill-conceived subway would slow up and stop progress on Muni improvement projects of much greater merit, probably for decades.

But all is not lost.  Despite the fact that the SFMTA's public relations machine has been working overtime to promulgate the myth that the Central Subway is a "done deal" - it's not a done deal.  In fact, Congress has 60 days to review the FTA's preliminary recommendations and ratings before rendering its appropriation decisions, an evaluation period that has yet to begin.

The Central Subway is a sham.  Ordinary San Franciscans have a long and distinguished record of heading off bad and destructive projects.  So there's hope.

Gerald Cauthen and Barry Eisenberg are with the group


6.  San Francisco Natural History Series MARCH LECTURE

Return of the Harbor Porpoises
Guest Speaker:  Bill Keener
7:30pm, Thursday, March 15th, 2012
FREE at the Randall Museum
199 Museum Way San Francisco, CA

Bill Keener, cofounder of Golden Gate Cetacean Research, created to study the porpoise, will tell us of their disappearance by the 1940s, the mystery of their unexpected return in recent years, and how you can help by reporting your porpoise sightings.

More info: Golden Gate Cetacean Research,

Adrian Cotter & Philip Gerrie


The Sturgeon in San Francisco Bay

Dr. Michael McGowan presented a question to us. The green sturgeon are in trouble as a species. But for a 100 million year old fish, how critical is a bay which is only 8,000 years old?

The problem is that San Francisco Bay is now demarcated as being habitat for this fish - a demarkation that makes certain aspects of human activity more difficult. The question sparked an interesting debate, about the need for good science to be behind decisions, about how much protection could be a good thing, and the possibilites of how the Bay might be critical habitat for future populations, and how driving decisions based on bad data might be ultimately harmful.

It seemed clear from Dr. McGowan's presentation that there wasn't a lot of good science to back up the idea that the Bay is critical habitat for green sturgeon - in particular large swaths of the south bay where the fish is rarely if ever found. Both green and white varieties of sturgeon can be found in the bay at large, but mostly for the green, the bay is just a transitional space heading from river to see: green sturgeon spawn upstream, and the larva swim downstream and
out into the ocean where they spend most of their lives.  White sturgeon hang about longer (and are now doing okay in the Bay after having suffered a fisheries collapse in the late 1800s, early 1900s).  But white sturgeon data was used to guide the decision about the green sturgeon -- a fish that has quite a different life cycle.

Declaring the Bay critical habitat, at the end of the day, looks like it may do nothing for the fish - we ultimately need to be finding out what other causes there might be for the fish's problems: gravel mining, overfishing, etc. Maybe habitat is the issue, it just seems likely that it is not what is going on in the bay that is the issue.

All in all it was a great talk - lots of detail about these fascinating species of fish and our interaction with them (official caviar is technically the eggs from a particular species of sturgeon that swim the Volga). We all hope they stay around for another 100 million years at least!



7.  Feedback

Lee Rudin:
RE: Do you know if San Francisco supports the habitat, and is a correct place for Owl boxes, has lots of information and for a $100 consultation fee, they will walk your property and assess it for Barn Owls. I am so pleased because after years of trying to get our HOA to remove rodenticides, the board recently approved installing 2 owl boxes.

Name Withheld (re The Sierra Club and the $100 Million Donation That Changed It Forever):
thanks - for me the sierra club info below was real news.for years I had heard there were all sorts of politics, but I never knew what; I did hear at some point some group tried to take over the SC... and almost succeeded, or did succeed for a while...

As a member of the local Loma Prieta Chapter, I have been wondering for years now why the club is not an invincible and effective FORCE for environmental protection, for sustainability. 

The SF Sierra Club had on their public reading shelf a flyer with reference in 1979/1980 - it is the first place I read that research has shown that when women get education, population numbers decrease. 
Your reference to a Club takeover was a nasty period in Sierra Club history and one that pitted good people against each other.  A famous astronomer, Ben Zuckerman, had been elected to the Sierra Club national board a couple years earlier, and he openly advocated more aggressive action to stabilize population, including tighter immigration policies.  In a subsequent election he was joined by several others* in an attempt to get a majority on the Club board to do this.  That set off alarm bells, and the executive director of the time, Carl Pope, launched an offensive that effectively smeared the initiative and its proponents.  Democracy, our natural resources, and the Sierra Club were not served, but the Club got to keep the money that Gelbaum gave the Club if they would keep hands off the immigration issue.  John Muir can't help but be turning over in his grave.

Pope's successor, Michael Brune, looks as though he is making an honest attempt to align Club actions and policies with its founder, John Muir.  What, if anything, he is able to do about that guilt money I don't know.

For the record, I am a Life Member and 49-year member of the Club and I intend to remain a member.  No matter how frustrated I become with it, the very nature of the manifold problems it addresses and the extremely confusing nature of our times argues for cutting it some slack--not to mention the deep debt of gratitude everyone owes it for its enormous contributions since its formation after the damming of Hetch Hetchy was approved in 1913.

*  I knew the others, but names don't come readily to mind except for Richard Lamm, three-time governor of Colorado and a very thoughtful and enlightened person (how, I wondered, did such a man have a successful career in politics?), Roy Van de Hoek (a friend, and a former Bureau of Land Management ranger who got in trouble with the bureaucrats for his honest attempt to protect the resources he was charged with) and two or three others.  Unfortunately, there were animal rights activists who inserted themselves into the election issue, muddying the waters, and provided abundant material to set off alarms that crazies were trying to "take over the Club".

I will get mail on this.  I hope it sheds light in addition to the heat.

I started noticing my local SC chapter 2 or 3 years ago when 2 or 3 of them spoke IN FAVOR of killing frogs and keeping a golf course in Pacifica - at public expense!! I WAS SHOCKED - it definitely was not the SC I ever supported.
I have had quite a number of shocks from Club members, some of whom are there for self-centered or selfish reasons and who have no conservation ethic.  All that's required is to pay dues.  Fortunately, they are not representative of members, most of whom care a great deal about a healthy world.

“It is the abiding concern of thinking people to preserve what keeps men human--to save our contact with the nature of which we are a part.”

"Of what avail are forty freedoms without a blank spot on the map?"  Aldo Leopold


“When you put your hand in a flowing stream, you touch the last that has gone before and the first that is still to come.”  Leonardo da Vinci

 “Everything in nature is lyrical in its ideal essence, tragic in its fate, and comic in its existence.”  George Santayana

George Orwell:  “An idea so stupid only an intellectual could have thought of it.”

“To a surprising extent, the warlords in shining armor, the apostles of the martial virtues, tend not to die fighting when the time comes.  History is full of ignominious getaways by the great and famous.”    —George Orwell


9.  Report from retired 27-year Fish & Game Warden Miles Young

(JS:  Miles is prolix and not the best writer--I cut out about half the words and it still needs more pruning--but his heart is in the right place and if you will read it carefully you'll get not only undercurrents but hints of other issues and perspectives that should concern environmentalists.  This is not a clearcut case of a macho trophy hunter, and environmentalists often don't know who their friends are.  We should investigate and learn from this experience rather than try to get rid of Richards.)


I watched the meeting twice, once for content and the other for the pure entertainment value.  I couldn't have written a better movie script myself: we had politics at its worst, visceral reactions, backtracking and challenges, fact and fiction, a surprise or two, a very visual portrayal of how the Commission really functions and a clear example of how the Conservation/Environmental/Animal activist groups can't function as a cohesive group.  If I were scoring the "event" I would give the hunting fraternity 8 out of 10, the Commission 4 out of 10 and the C/E/A group 2 out of 10.

....I think perhaps Richards may have set the stage for the huge backlash for his hunt and his lack of peer support as a result of statements made at prior meetings.   He was very vocal in criticizing the prior DFG Director (John McCamman) memo on the live animal markets and fell just short of calling him inept.  Richards challenged DFG as to why they didn't follow the Commission's orders to them.  He stated he was appointed and couldn't be removed (a challenge to others) and even said the Commission was dysfunctional  Even though he didn't break any hunting laws in Idaho, the posting of his photo with the mountain lion was the catalyst the anti-hunting groups AND his political rivals were waiting for.

      If anyone ever wanted to believe in a conspiracy theory this particular incident could fit the bill; the Idaho hunt attracted so much attention, one man and one mountain lion. while the Tejon Ranch lion kills; numerous lions, private ranch, big bucks, civil settlement and paltry fines generated little attention.   What might the public have learned had all this attention been spent investigating the Tejon kills.  During the Commission meeting Chief Warden Nancy Foley talks about five deer hunters that received $100,000 worth of fines for poaching a few deer.  That's great, but how does that penalty compare to the one given to Tejon Ranch?  What's more puzzling was that Tejon Ranch is about numerous mountain lions killed in California and Richards' event is about one lion killed in Idaho and where does the outraged C/E/A groups focus their energies?

... The Commission is self-serving and bends the rules to please themselves.   There were continued outbursts of applause from the audience, yet the audience wasn't cautioned or asked to stop...Would the outbursts and repetition have been allowed if the subject was the Live Animal Markets, abalone closures or MPA's?  I seriously doubt it.

      I must commend all the sporting and recreational groups for showing up and for speaking as one with their support and faith of Richards as a commissioner.  By my count, there were 57 speakers that actually stated they wanted Richards to stay in office.  There were only 4 who wanted his removal and two of those were clearly visceral reactions without any sustenance to their pleas.  The sporting and recreational groups have learned to put aside their petty differences and work as one when the issues are critical. which in this case was supporting a friend on the Commission.  Right or wrong Richards is definitely labeled a pro-hunting advocate now.  ...

     On the other hand the failure of those to show up, the people that complained the most and were crying for Richards' head, just illustrates the movement has serious weaknesses.  The Humane Society of the US. (HSUS) was at the lead, they started the attack on Richards.  They claim to have over a million members in California; where were they and where were their leaders?  That also goes for all the other organizations that jumped on the bandwagon and are still after Richards.  In essence they are paper tigers: all words, they attack from a distance with legal briefs, email rhetoric and newspaper interviews.  It sometimes appears these groups raise a considerable amount of money as a result of passionate pleas to help the animals.  Where does the money go?  Looks like a considerable amount goes into raising more money to keep the PR campaign going.  

     For me, this meeting pointed out the major difference between the two groups. The sporting and recreational organizations can be united when they need to be, they have the intestinal fortitude and energy to stand before the public and voice their viewpoints and they are comfortable with dealing with facts not just emotions.  The C/E/A organizations have difficulty showing a united front, they run more with emotions rather than fact, and thus their bark is worse than their bite.

...The Commission system is definitely broken, Kellogg and Rogers shouldn't even be there (both their terms expired months ago), and yet they are and running things at that.  Makes one wonder what the governor thinks about the Commission and its ability to influence resource issues....What really needs to happen is for the governor to appoint some people that have actually dealt with our resources first hand, have an idea of the practical side of things, and only owe allegiance to the public they serve.

      The result of this meeting was to unite one group, weaken another, probably bring a near forgotten issue back under public scrutiny and illustrate a broken system in this state's attempt to protect and preserve its natural resources.


10.  Jerry Cadagan:
Jake --- I like the fact that technology now allows you to link to certain articles in the Westside Observer, as you did here in item 10 with Audubon's piece about the Chalet.

Meanwhile, I continue to beat my head against a brick wall trying to get the bureaucracy to do the right thing at Lake Merced.  I'd really appreciate it if you'd consider running an item in your next Nature News with this link --


11.  Mark Langan:

Hi Jake,
I haven't been able to find any reference, but I thought if anybody would know, you would.  For the past several weeks there have been two very bright stars (possibly planets?) in the western sky near the horizon (or at least near what passes for it this side of the Twin Peaks).  They tend to show up right after sundown, rising above Diamond Heights.  Do you have any idea what they may be?

They are Venus and Jupiter.  They are spectacular all right.  Nothing is brighter than Venus except the Moon.

I have been wanting to post for past couple of weeks but too busy to compose even a short paragraph.  Mars is now high in the east after sundown, and Saturn will be rearing its beautiful head after mid-April.  I try to time my night sky posts with period when our skies are clear.  So you can blame me that it's going to rain for the next week.  Are you impressed with my awesome power to change the weather?

Only the elusive Mercury of the five naked-eye planets will be missing.  Always hard to see anyway.


12.  Please join us for the Awards Ceremony on World Water Day, Thursday, March 22, from 11am-1pm at the Redwood City Council Chambers, 1017 Middlefield Road, Redwood City.  The event is free and you can register at

Congratulations to the 2012 Silicon Valley Water Conservation Awards Winners

Large Government Agency: Santa Clara Valley Water District
Small Government Agency: Estero Municipal Improvement District
Large Business: Adobe Systems
Small Business: Earth Bound Homes
Organization: Our City Forest
Greenscape Management: Waterfluence
Education: Tuolumne River Trust
Water Champion: Frank Niccoli (The Village Gardener)


13.  Your water footprint

Click on the image for the full-sized version of the water use graphic.

According to a recent study by a Nature Conservancy partner organization – the Water Footprint Network (WFN)– the “water footprint” of the average American is 32,911 glasses per day.

Where is all this water? It’s “hidden” in things we eat, wear and use – from hamburgers to blue jeans


14.  The Watershed Nursery is having an End of Winter 99 cent Sale

3 Days Only!
Friday, March 16th - Sunday March 18th, 2012, 10 am - 4 pm

Stock up for spring planting during The Watershed Nursery's Special 2012 Winter Sale.
Now is your chance to save BIG on our large selection of beautiful Native California plants. Hundreds of California Native Plants will be specially marked down to 99¢ each and you can enjoy a 10% discount on the rest of the plants.
We will have our friendly and knowledgeable staff available to help you with selections for your particular needs.
(Sales are subject to current availability and no other discounts apply)

601-A Canal Blvd.
Richmond, CA 94804
phone: (510) 234-2222
fax: (510) 234-2242


15.  Spring is here, and California Native Grasslands Assn has a great new workshop (which is hands-on with Smartphone apps/ GPS cameras/ Web-based tools/ e-books) to kick it off on March 22 in Sacramento. Please read below, and also see the attached registration flyer. Help CNGA by posting and sharing the flyer wherever you can, and then sign up now, because this one will fill fast!

Emerging  Botanical Technologies:

Using New Tools to Identify, Map, and Explore Wild Diversity
Thursday, March 22, 8:00-4:00 pm
American River Parkway Foundation, 5700 Arden Way, Carmichael, CA 95608
Workshop Fees: $120/CNGA members, $140/Non-members, $75 Students w ID

This workshop is designed for restoration professionals, researchers, students, and all grassland lovers who want to learn the use of a new set of tools for collecting and exploring plant information.

 Get answers to these questions:
    •    What is already known about my land or species?
    •    How should I map my grassland, preserve, or species?
    •    How can citizen science contribute to conservation?
    •    “There’s an app for that.” Who cares?
    •    I am a professional: what new tools can make my work better and easier?

Expert instructors will guide you through the following topics:
    •    Smartphone apps and mobile tools: Which ones work?
    •    Android and iPhone mapping tools for professionals
    •    Citizen science tools, considerations, strategies
    •    Using GPS cameras for fast and information-rich mapping
    •    Using online databases and advanced mapping tools
    •    Data collection principles and data quality considerations
    •    Vouchering and submitting specimens for ID

Course Description:

Smartphone apps/ GPS cameras/Web-based tools/e-books!   Recent years have seen great innovation in tools that give professional botanists and amateur naturalists new ability to identify plants in the field, precisely map plants, report beautiful or important discoveries, and explore diversity and distribution from mountaintop, desktop, or laptop.

Unfortunately, tools can be duplicative, confusing, and often exaggerate their true utility –and who wants to be looking at their phone while they’re outside enjoying wild California!  We all know there are great new tools available, but what really works, what is a waste, and how do we enhance our ability to botanize without wasting time focusing on gadgets?

This training workshop introduces participants to the diversity of technical tools available for exploring California’s botanical diversity and helps them to understand their various uses.  We will review the range of tools, and then talk about how to use them so that they add to rather than detract from our field experience.  There will be enough Android phones, iPhones, tablets, and GPS cameras to ensure that every attendee has the chance to get “hands on” and familiar with using these tools.

All workshop attendees will receive a free Professional Registration to Calflora, which will allow you to explore a range of exciting tools available through the Calflora website and electronic field tools.  By the end of this class you will be ready for your best spring wildflower season ever!


Daniel Gluesenkamp is Executive Director of Calflora, the leading source of wild California plant information.  Prior to joining Calflora, Dan worked for directed habitat protection and restoration work for Audubon Canyon Ranch’s 30 preserves. He is a past-president of the California Invasive Plant Council and co-founder of the Bay Area Early Detection Network (BAEDN). In 2009, he discovered a presumed-extinct manzanita plant growing on a traffic island at the Golden Gate Bridge.

Mike Perlmutter is Coordinator for the Bay Area Early Detection Network (BAEDN).  Mike has developed vouchering protocols for BAEDN, used electronic tools to map and prioritize plant populations, and organized BAEDN’s training workshops.

Andrea Williams is Ecologist for the Marin Municipal Water District. She developed peer-reviewed inventory and monitoring protocols for San Francisco area National Parks and has taught several training workshops.

Judy G-Scott, Administrative Director
California Native Grasslands Association
PO Box 8327, Woodland, CA 95776
Ph/FAX 530-661-2280

16.  Green Connections

Upcoming Office Hours:

Green Connections Office Hours: Western Addition
Date: Wednesday March 14, 2012
Time: 3pm - 6pm
Location: Western Addition Public Library, Community Room, 1550 Scott Street

Green Connections Office Hours: Tenderloin
Date: Wednesday March 21, 2012
Time: 3pm - 6pm
Location: Tenderloin Community Benefit District Office, 134 Golden Gate Avenue

Green Connections Office Hours: Potrero Hill
Date: Wednesday March 28, 2012
Time: 3pm - 6pm
Location: Potrero Hill Recreation Center, 801 Arkansas Street

Green Connections Office Hours: Visitacion Valley
Date: Wednesday April 4, 2012
Time: 3:30pm - 6:30pm
Location: Visitacion Valley Public Library, Community Room, 201 Leland Avenue

Green Connections Office Hours: Chinatown
Date: Wednesday April 11, 2012
Time: 3pm - 6pm
Location: Chinatown Public Library, Community Room, 1135 Powell Street

Green Connections Office Hours: Bayview
Date: Wednesday April 25, 2012
Time: 3pm - 6pm
Location: Joseph Lee Recreation Center, 1395 Mendell Street

Green Connections will increase pedestrian and bicycle access to parks, open space and the waterfront, by re-envisioning City streets and paths as ‘green connectors’that can be built over time.In the first year of the project, the focus will be to map a citywide network. The second year will build on this framework to design green connections in the following six neighborhoods: Bayview-Hunters Point, Chinatown, Potrero Hill, Tenderloin, Visitacion Valley and Western Addition.

Get involved! Visit the project web site below for project information and upcoming events. Also, follow Green Connections on Facebook and take our survey!!!


March 14 at 1.59 pm is Pi Day    

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Pi Day is a holiday commemorating the mathematical constant π.  Pi Day is celebrated on March 14 (or 3/14 in month/day date format), since 3, 1 and 4 are the three most significant digits of π in the decimal form. In 2009, the United States House of Representatives supported the designation of Pi Day.  Pi Approximation Day is held on July 22 (or 22/7 in day/month date format), since the fraction 22⁄7 is a common approximation of π.

Larry Shaw created Pi Day in 1988.  The holiday was celebrated at the San Francisco Exploratorium, where Shaw worked as a physicist, with staff and public marching around one of its circular spaces, then consuming fruit pies.  The Exploratorium continues to hold Pi Day celebrations.

Pi is known to the first trillion digits
Indiana State Assembly in 1897 passed a measure that decreed pi=3.2.  The Senate postponed action.  Important for measuring land, and taxation

-- In 1998, a newsletter titled New Mexicans for Science and Reason carried an article that the state of Alabama had voted to change the value of pi from 3.14159 to the "Biblical value" of 3.0.

Even mentioned in the Bible - 1 Kings 7:23
 23 He made the Sea of cast metal, circular in shape, measuring ten cubits from rim to rim and five cubits high. It took a line of thirty cubits* to measure around it.

*1 Kings 7:23 That is, about 45 feet or about 14 meters

The Joy of Pi
By David Blatner

(From Introduction):  In our world of high-tech precision instruments, where we assure ourselves that perfection is attainable, it’s hard to admit that we cannot truly solve a problem as simple as dividing a circle’s circumference by its diameter.  And yet this value…has puzzled mathematicians for nearly four thousand years, generating more interest, consuming more brainpower, and filling more wastebaskets with discarded theories than any other single number.

…you’ll never find an exact value for pi.  Nonetheless, mathematicians throughout history have dedicated years of their lives to churning out as many digits as possible.  The current record, over 51 billion digits, is a testament to the incredible power of both brain and computer.  But why would people do this?  No measurement realistically requires even 100 digits of pi.  In fact, even the most obsessive engineer would never need more than 7 digits of pi, and a physicist wouldn’t use more than 15 or 20.  So why are these mathematicians so driven?

…calculating pi is one of the hardest workouts with which you can challenge a computer; a single wrong digit can cause every subsequent number to be wrong.  In fact, whenever individuals have attempted to break the world’s record, they have uncovered deep underlying flaws in their hardware or software that would have been almost impossible to identify any other way.

The quest to understand pi often has less to do with actually calculating more digits than it has to do with searching for answers that could explain why something as simple as the ratio of a circumference to a diameter should unfold in such a complex manner.  The search for pi is deeply rooted in the human spirit of exploration—of both our minds and our world—and in our irrepressible drive to test our limits.  As with climbing Mt. Everest, people do it because it’s there.

In the story of pi we find both the mythical and the mystical, the profound and the profoundly silly.  Pi teaches us about the limits of our own comprehension, clearly marking the boundary between the finite and the infinite.  We know pi best from the circle ratio, and yet it appears throughout mathematics, physics, statistics, engineering, architecture, biology, astronomy, and even the arts.  Pi lies hidden in the rhythms of both sound waves and ocean waves, ubiquitous in nature as well as in geometry.

There’s little doubt that if we understood this number better—if we could find a pattern in its digits or a deeper awareness of why it appears in so many seemingly unrelated equations—we’d have a deeper understanding of mathematics and the physics of our universe.  But the number has always held its cards tight to its chest, ceding little ground in the battle for human comprehension.

…mathematicians have plumbed deeper and deeper within pi’s digits with a religious fervor, hoping to find even a hint of understanding.  “God ever geometrizes,” wrote Plato.  And yet, now that we’ve calculated billions of digits of pi on the world’s fastest supercomputers and still found nothing, we must begin to ask:  How detailed must we get before we start to appreciate the mystery of the number?

Probably no symbol in mathematics has evoked as much mystery, romanticism, misconception and human interest as the number pi (π).
    William L. Schaaf, Nature and History of π

Mathematics…would certainly have not come into existence if one had known from the beginning that there was in nature no exactly straight line, no actual circle, no absolute magnitude.
    Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human

The computation of π is virtually the only topic from the most ancient stratum of mathematics that is still of serious interest to modern mathematical research.
  Len Berggren, Jonathan Borwein, and Peter Borwein:  Pi:  A Source Book

If we take the world of geometrical relations, the thousandth decimal of pi sleeps there, though no one may ever try to compute it.
   William James, The Meaning of Truth

Math Mathesis alone was unconfined,
Too mad for mere material chains to bind, -
Now to pure space lifts her ecstatic stare,
Now, running around the circle, finds it square.
    Alexander Pope, Dunciad, 1743

(Pope's author's notes explain that this refers to "the wild and fruitless attempts of squaring the circle.")

One of the unnoticed good effects of television is that people now watch it instead of producing pamphlets squaring the circle.
  Underwood Dudley, Mathematical Cranks

Tis a favorite project of mine
A new value of pi to assign.
I would fix it at 3
For it’s simpler, you see,
Than 3 point 1459.
  Harvey L Carter, quoted by W.S. Baring-Gould, in The Lure of the Limerick

"Ten decimals are sufficient to give the circumference of the earth to the fraction of an inch, and thirty decimals would give the circumference of the whole visible universe to a quantity imperceptible with the most powerful microscope."
    Simon Newcomb, quoted in Mathematics and the Imagination, by Edward Kasner and James Newman

The Blatner book includes a two-page Q&A by defense attorney Robert Blasier to FBI Special Agent Roger Martz in the courtroom of the O.J. Simpson trial involving the value of pi.  Martz didn't come off well.


My love is like a source code
 that compiles on the first shot.
My love is like a PDE*
  when all nonlinear terms drop out.
And so you can extrapolate,
  so locked in phase am I,
That I will love you till they find
  the last digit of pi.

Rebecca Carlson

* partial differential equation

Poesy from Science News

Pie are square is not right.  Pie are round; cake are square.

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